Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
Glossopdale Charity Crafters are a little Mancunian hive of crafters, networking away to strengthen communities. These amazing volunteers have busily sewn, knitted and crocheted throughout the pandemic. However, what they have realised, like many other community organisations and Charities, have also recognised; is the time for going it alone is gone. We know that if we unite and network, we make communities stronger, and our impact grows.
Deborah Gregory is the founder of the Glossopdale Charity Crafters. Deborah told me how it all began, the ethos of their organisation, and how a tiny hamlet in Derbyshire came together of like-minded individuals; determined to go the extra mile and do what they need to make their community stronger.
Glossopdale Charity Crafters, the beginning…
‘In March 2016, the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust sent out a request for little knitted or crocheted bees to be placed on walks and around towns in Derbyshire. The aim was to promote the work they were doing to protect bees, so there was a label attached for “finders” to log in to say they where they had found it, and there would be lots of information on how to help bees.
When you post on Facebook in a community group, many know that you will usually meet with nasty comments. Often you are met with sarcasm or worse; however, tongue in cheek, I decided to ask if anyone wanted to help, thinking no one would offer. Surprisingly, I was wrong because over 20 people said they would join, and as a result, we made about 500 crocheted bees, which we subsequently delivered to a local DWT volunteer.
The Glossopdale Charity Crafters became ‘offical’
Initially, we met up once a month, and when we finished the bee project, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust asked me if there were any other projects we could do. At that time, I had had no intention to run a group; still, I thought about it, and we decided to make the group official.
My background is working with children in care, and I have been a leader of several toddler groups. I’ve also helped run youth groups and was a pastoral visitor at the church I attended. I’ve also spent ten years as an ambassador for the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity; I am passionate about supporting children and making communities stronger. We decided on the Glossopdale Charity Crafters, and I began writing the group’s ethos.
Collectively, we knew it was clear; we needed to reach out to people with gifts of friendship, to meet their physical and emotional needs. Thus, we began reaching out to community group leaders, the volunteer bureaus, and local charities and hospitals to see where we could best help. We found that numerous groups were making items for premature babies in the hospital, so we decided to leave them, and instead, we focused on the hundreds of other wards.
We began to make Beads of Courage bags for children in hospital…
‘On one ward, we began making Beads of Courage bags for the Manchester Children’s Hospital. The principle idea is that the beads are given to children with life-threatening illnesses, such as childhood cancers. Each bead is colour coded for something that happens at the hospital: a meeting with a consultant, a blood test, an operation etc. The children, over time, add beads to their strings, and this means the staff know all the children’s recent events immediately.’
‘At this time, Sam, the beautiful, bubbly Sam, worked in the charity office, so I went to meet with her and told her of my aim. Within weeks, I delivered about 20 black bin liners of lovingly packed items for the dementia ward, the refugee baby ward, the extremely tiny premature baby wards, the geriatric wards, and others.’
‘By Christmas, our list of requests was growing, and we had made poppies lap blankets for residents in nursing homes. We were also making chocolate covers for Blythe House Hospice care and gifts; social services delivered these gifts to people in our community with no family.’ We knew that by working together, we were making communities stronger.
Networking with the Sandwich Angels in supporting our communities.
‘Slowly but surely, the network was growing. We had started helping ‘Sandwich Angels’, who provided sandwiches for the homeless living on the streets and those who were close to being made homeless. Cascade baby bundles came next, helping to offer clothes to families in need.’
And crafting friendship bracelets for 3000 refugees in Europe!
‘Then I met with Jo Gregory, who, with her friend Pam, started trying to support the tens of thousands of refugees all over Europe. It all started over a coffee where she ended with, “Is there any chance you could make some friendship bracelets?”
‘I regretted asking how many she needed because the answer was about 3000, and she needed them in 6 days! So, with the help of a busload of schoolchildren, pleas to friends and sitting in church on Sunday adding tags with friendship messages on them, we did it. Also, we began knitting premature baby items for them as many of their babies were born so tiny; they needed the blankets, warm hats, and gloves.’ I do love a challenge!
The Hummingbird Hub meet the needs of local families…
‘Jo stopped supporting refugees after a couple of years as many have settled in camps and, thankfully, working in their adoptive countries. However, Jo isn’t one to stop, and she began the ‘Hummingbird Hubs’ supporting local families. Her home is now packed with boxes of equipment, clothes, toys, and games; every Easter and Christmas, Jo provides gifts for vulnerable community members. We, of course, support her with handmade gifts; I have boxes outside my house where people can leave donations for her!’
‘This Christmas, the Sandwich Angels received almost no gifts for the hundred or so families they now support; subsequently, I put them in touch with the Hummingbirds. As a result, I delivered gifts for all the people they support; subsequently, this is how we help out communities, we work together, and grow stronger together.’Deborah Gregory
The Glossopdale Charity Crafters ethos hasn’t changed, nor has it’s vision.
I have tried to form an umbrella of groups knitting for the community; our ethos hasn’t changed, although the number of people we support has. Our group has grown to around 200, some online, some not; however, not everyone “gets” our vision of providing for every person in need.
Some want to do their own thing and take the glory; hence, it hasn’t been all plain sailing. There have been rows; some of them are very nasty rows I’ve chosen to walk away from as they are not of my making. So, we quietly work away from distractions. We are like a little cottage industry, yet we aren’t; we are a community of volunteers whose aim is to help anyone who needs us and make our communities stronger.’
So when this nightmare pandemic started, we started to get requests from desperate hospital staff asking us for scrubs; they couldn’t buy them anywhere. Once again, I posted online and set up another Facebook group because I needed machinists; thankfully, over 2000 machinists from all over Manchester and the High Peak came forward within two days.
We were like a litle Mancunian hive of busy bees…
There were 13 teams, like a little Mancunian hive of busy bees, trying to stop the spread of the disease, providing scrubs and laundry bags to all our hospitals, hospice workers, community nurses, nursing homes, dentists and GPs. We made over 5000 sets of scrubs in total and even more laundry bags.
We emptied the shelves of every material shop and factory in the region then started on the bedding shops and factories. Women came together to help support our community and make us stronger in the fight against COVID 19.
So, why do we do this? Because community matters and people want to help each other. They know the welfare system is falling apart, and they can’t bear seeing vulnerable people, families and children in our communities suffering.
We can;t do this alone, we need other bees in our hive…
However, we know we can’t do this alone; Glossopdale Charity Crafters are just the bees in the hive to go back to where we started. Many people began to feel helpless and lost during the lockdown. Still, we kept busy, limiting what we could do but not stopping because the need didn’t stop; in fact, it is even greater now than before. But, the community we are building, helping the larger community, and making it stronger will benefit us all.’
‘We know that so many people have struggled during the lockdown. They have lost loved ones, often without saying goodbye, they felt isolated, and many are now afraid to go outside. Too many people have long covid with the economic issues that entail; many are now redundant or are unable to work due to the risk COVID posed and still does.’
‘So we carry on what we love doing, and our network grows along with the number of people who receive gifts of friendship. We will warmly welcome anyone who wants to join our crafting community and carry on as long as we have wool and material.’
Glossopdale Charity Crafters and Verve CIC, making communities stronger, together…
Verve Recruitment CIC started campaigns during the lockdown to find kind-hearted people willing to help Mum’s and their babies, struggling to find knitted baby clothes and blankets in lockdown. The Knitting for Babies campaign brought together women, and community groups, who all had one common focus; to support those who have become vulnerable in our community and make their communities stronger again.
We were receiving beautiful knitted garments, bereavement blankets, hearts and teddies from the ladies who came forward to support us; unbeknown to us; there were other community groups, all doing the same thing. It wasn’t surprising; the demand for help is snowballing no matter where we live. Especially now, as the economic effects of lockdown are setting in.
The kind-hearted individuals who came forward to help are lovely, but it doesn’t stop there. Community groups have joined forces to help each other, and together, they grow stronger. When Verve Ambassador Yvonne Simms told me the Glossopdale Charity Crafters had got in touch with an offer of help, I was humbled. More importantly, the kindness and support, together with a can-do attitude, is what we need now; they simply get on with it, like a hive of Mancunian worker bees on a mission.
All donations go directly to those in need…
To date, thanks to the kindness and support of local community groups, volunteers and organisations like the Glossopdale Charity Crafters, we have delivered Bereavement Blankets, hearts and teddies to local hospitals to support those affected by the pandemic.
We support children in foster care by providing them with a knitted toy in the welcome boxes from the Not for Profit Charities we support. These toys offer children a much-needed hug from a special friend that stays with them, no matter where they go.
Finally, Verve Recruitment CIC recruits foster carers for the Not for Profit sector and campaigns tirelessly for sibling foster carers to keep families together. We need more knitted toys for siblings because that has happened; foster carers are coming through, and siblings are together. But, they need a toy each; Can you help?
Verve CIC, the Glossopdale Charity Crafters, community organisations and like-minded people do what we do because we care. More importantly, we have recognised there is only so much we can do alone. However, together, we are stronger; but we need more help…
Could you support us?
If you could help our campaigns or find out more about who we are and what we do, please get in touch on the form below. Alternatively, if you are a community group that needs help or support, get in touch because if we can help, we will. And if we can’t, we’ll find someone who can. We know that we are in challenging times, but kindness and compassion will never change; together, we are stronger.